Student in a Black Studies class in a west side Chicago classroom, 1973

African American Studies: Foundations and Key Concepts

This non-exhaustive list of readings in African American Studies highlights the vibrant history of the discipline and introduces the field.

The American Art Style that Idolized the Machine

Precisionism, a modernist art style that emerged in the early 20th century, glorified the machine age, all but erasing the presence of people.
Samuel Richardson

Why the First Novel Created Such a Stir

Samuel Richardson's Pamela, the first novel in English, astounded and terrified readers. Authors have striven for the same effect since.
Blue Black gallery view

Glenn Ligon’s “Blue Black” Exhibits the History of Race in America

Artist Glenn Ligon grounds his work in American history, addressing the inextricable link between history of slavery and the black experience in the U.S.
baby sheep

The Invention of Pets

Pet are a relatively recent invention. In the 18th and 19th centuries, pethood arose in the split between farm animals and home animals.
Eiffel Tower

A Short History of Paris for Travelers

Read up on some of the fascinating history of the City of Lights before you head off on your next romantic vacation.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Mall

The Making of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Though now celebrated for its modern, minimal design and contemplative space, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was once the subject of heated debates.
Dorothy's ruby slippers

Consumerism and The Wizard of Oz

The Smithsonian Institution is running a Kickstarter campaign to restore and preserve Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. 
African American Civil War soldiers

Early Photographs of African American Soldiers at The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Prickitt album in the NMAAC is a rare coincidence of names and photographs of Colored Troops fighting for the Union in the Civil War. 

More Hipster Than Thou: Is Vintage Language Back in Vogue?

A look at the recent boon in archaic terms and its relationship to "hipster" culture.